One thing that sets apart each coffee shop is the means and technique by which they roast their coffee beans. It’s been a journey from Starbuck’s fraps, to being able to enjoy black coffee and even identify certain flavors… and even appreciate the differences between continents from which the beans are sourced. The process that has been most intriguing to me of late, is the roasting.
Whenever roaster and shop owner, David, starts roasting a batch, I find myself staring – not at David, but at the machine! I watch the beans spinning in their cylindrical oven and the timer, bright against the white walls, being watched carefully. I watch the fingers covered in man-rings turning bright blue knobs and clicking bright green buttons. I watch latches pulled and streams of dark brown beans pour into another stationary cylinder. I watch as they get mixed for a few minutes before being dumped into their bins, lidded, and marked: Kenya 4/13.
It’s become somewhat a habit for me to stay at James Coffee Co. after business hours. The pattern really began when David would be out of town and his brother (and I guess co-owner?), Jacob, would come in instead. My friendships with both these guys are similar in many ways but very different in other ways. Generally speaking, I think I’m a lot closer to Jacob than I am with David. When the clock would strike 7pm – closing time – it is customary for Jacob to not care and continue to act as though they were open. The bright $900 “Coffee” suspended above the coffee bar still shined it’s welcoming red, lit up invitation to people passing by and the oldies music still blared from their speakers. Slowly and eventually customers would trickle out but then that’s when the real dance party would begin.
Jacob, the closing barista, and I would dance like idiots and talk about way too personal of things in too great of detail before I’d finally sense an overstayed welcome and leave. The other day was the first time I stayed when David was roasting.
Here are some of the things I learned that night:
- The giant pipe through the ceiling is meant to get airflow into the roaster
- The beans generate their own heat while spinning around in their little oven
- There is a significant relationship between time and heat momentum
- If you time things perfectly, you get magic
- Thing smell delicious when the beans reach a certain point
Not much… but I felt honored to be the only person in the shop with the owner learning all these things like a sensai’s grasshopper. He even hooked me up with a free V60…and 2 free muffins… and some cold brew Geisha Ethiopia…and some White Owl… Quite a day. Quite a day.